In the spring and summer, home sales seemingly are at their highest. The clear weather and feel-good vibes that those seasons bring along make for a more pleasant, convenient process for home buyers. Conversely, for sellers, their homes are thought to show better and easier to maintain. Despite the onset of biting cold and muddy or snow-laced pathways, real estate markets like the Denver metro and Colorado Springs area are still running relatively hot. Home sales in the Denver metro area in particular remained strong in November 2014 even with inventory being a real constraint. While there was a decline in listings from the month prior, Denver is still seeing green with overall home sales. Selling a house in winter brings unique challenges but it also has rewards too.
Declines of any kind in home sales reflect what analysts refer to as “market seasonality.” Traditionally, May through August sees the most buying activity with a unsurprising last push sometimes in October. December and January tend to be the quieter months of the year when it comes to real estate, but as Denver has proven, sales might slow–they don’t go M.I.A.
For sellers who are confident in their property’s value and enlist the help of a knowledgeable, seasoned (no pun intended, of course) Realtor, being bold and strategic in these winter months could truly spring you profit. Don’t let Mother Nature’s inclinations during this time of year to spoil your listing’s chances–it doesn’t have to be a handicap. Selling a home in the dead of winter does have one advantage over the other seasons. Inventories are usually lower during that timeframe. Many home sellers will take their house off the market during the winter because they don’t want to mess with the hassle of showings during the holiday season, while others choose to take their house off in the winter to avoid increasing the days-on-market statistics for the house and giving it a fresh start in the spring. Either way, it results in less competition in your real estate market.
Do it right from the start
If you are going to be successful you should start with your best foot forward. Rather, your “best foot forward” really belongs to your real estate agent. The truth is selling in the winter is not as easily lucrative as it is in the warmer months. Nevertheless, you can still get a pretty penny if you work with a Realtor who has demonstrated success in situations like this. Your Realtor shouldn’t just have a baseline awareness of how to sell well, but how to sell well in your market, and in this timeframe. Vet those agents who come from trusted referrals and have successfully sold properties similar to yours in the winter. Let experience dictate who gets your time and attention because it will be those Realtors who won’t waste your time and your property’s value as a listing.
Getting warm and dressed up to sell
First impressions are everything and in the winter, holiday-filled months the warmest of introductions is best. From curb appeal to the interior, let your home embrace the season especially during open houses. Be mindful of the weather’s effects by keeping pathways and driveways as clear as possible of fallen leaves, snow, or ice. Keep in mind that open houses are traditionally held during the light of day so while tasteful, outdoor Christmas decor may look sweet and spirited, this is no time to go overboard. Serious potential buyers may check out your home in the evening to get a feel for the neighborhood so take care to mimic the rest of the neighborhood when it comes to holiday decor–if a majority of your neighbors showcase their Christmas light artistry consider joining in as it signals to buyers that the neighborhood is an inviting one with neighbors who are on the same page.
Once potential buyers are inside your home, welcome them with comfortably warm rooms, especially during the colder days to both put your visitors at ease and prove your furnace is in prime working condition. If your home has working fireplaces, an open house or private showing is an opportune time to set a nice, seasonal vibe in the room.
The truth under all that snow
The media–and less bold and successful Realtors–will tell you that now is not the time to sell. Historically, home sales begin sliding come November and more or less dive around January. What unseasoned real estate agents won’t know to tell their prospective sellers is that the winter often brings faster home sales, despite what the market may be exhibiting to untrained eyes. Denver suburb, Wheat Ridge, is a great example of winter activity where nine homes sold in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With the market offering slim pickings, competition is also scarce. Homeowners who dismiss public perception that winter is a poor time to put their home on the market see real profit and quickly in exchange for their tenacity. Just because winter arrives it doesn’t mean every buyer goes into hibernation. Those properties that offer up value to inventory-hungry buyers and their Realtors take advantage of a great opportunity for a quick, top-dollar sale.
The winter, especially for a booming economy like Denver, draws a need from the market to offer more and better inventory. The new year usually brings about an influx of transplants to the metro as job growth remains strong and is expected to continue into 2015. To that point, buyers looking to start fresh in Denver will find that inventory in months like December and January can’t even nearly rival peak seasons like late spring and summer. For just the right property, in this case, buyers will come flocking in hopes of snatching up a scarce resource.
Be smart throughout the seasons
Selling your home is not a light decision, nor is it always going to be simple and easy. That being said, your Realtor will be your guide and will know really what’s best with regards to the timing of your listing. If it is a must that you sell in the winter, working with the right Realtor who has had success in this season will be most advantageous. If you are considering selling now, speaking with a knowledgeable Realtor and keeping in mind both the advantages and disadvantages mentioned here may help you see the forest through the snow-dressed trees. In the meantime, grab a steaming cup of cocoa and shimmy under a warm blanket!